So we can keep the focus of Untamed Fly Fishing on Guiding, Darren has decided to open Untamed Flies and Tackle for his commercial tying, along with fly tackle retail sales. The flies page and Christmas Island blog entries will remain here, along with links to Darren's new website for those interested in ordering flies or tackle from him.
Darren's bonefish flies have proven to be that popular, there is a constant 4-8 week waiting time for tying!
Click on the image below to be taken to Untamed Flies and Tackle.
We've been using Maui Jim sunglasses for the last 7 years or so, and they are simply the best sunglasses on the planet. Our favourite lens is the HCL Bronze (High Contrast Lens) as it gives excellent contrast out on the water, even in variable conditions. It has a lovely warm subtle bronze tint, and the world just seems to come alive when wearing them. Put simply, the fish are nowhere as easy to see wearing any other glasses!
Maui Jim use patented PolarizedPlus2 technology, and here is the explanation of what that is direct from their website:
PolarizedPlus®2: In every pair of Maui Jims you’ll find our patented, color-infused lens technology that wipes out 99.9% of glare, 100% of harmful UV and boosts color via specially designed lens treatments. So your view is clearer, with crisper contrast and amazing brilliance.
We are very excited to announce that we have become Brand Ambassadors for Maui Jim. The seriously cool part of this news is that we now also have Maui Jim premium polarised sunglasses for our clients to use!
After numerous requests to supply bonefish flies for Christmas Island, I have decided to put together a couple of options for those wanting to purchase flies from me, details here: http://www.untamedfliesandtackle.com.au/christmas-island-flies.html
The selections are my favourite fish catchers in a range of different eye & hook sizes specifically chosen for Christmas Island Bones. My flies are different to what you will find available anywhere else, and are tied on premium Gamakatsu SL11-3H and SL12s hooks. The free Swift fly box (with any 2 or 3 dozen order) is an ideal pocket day box that is super compact and light. It will hold up to 40 Bonefish flies, and more info is available on the fly box @ Swift Fly Fishing here
All flys are tied to order, and most orders will be available for posting within a week. Feel free to send any orders or enquiries to email@example.com .
Scruffy & effective!
After giving a couple of beginner fly tying lessons recently, I thought I'd create a step by step for one of my favourite nymph patterns - the Hare's Ear & CDC nymph. This fly is easy to tie, and is a great pattern for beginners to start on.
This fly is just a variation of mine of the good old Hare's Ear nymph, and it would account for more fish than any other fly I tie. The CDC feathers trap little air bubbles and also give the fly lots of movement like little legs.
Any nymph hook would do, but I prefer a little known hook made by Tiemco called a TMC3761SP-BL. It is 1xl long which suits beadhead nymphs, and is also 2x heavy, so I can comfortably use it on BIG New Zealand trout. It's barbless SP design also penetrates easier, without compromising fish holding ability. I always have a heap of these nymphs tied and ready to go!
Click on the Download File link below to download the tying instructions.
Tailing loops are responsible for as many swear words in fly fishing as anything else, particularly when you can’t work out why they are happening. Explaining the cause of tailing loops can be quite complicated, so the simplest explanation I can come up with is that they are caused by the rod tip bending too much during the cast.
Imagine your rod tip while casting, traveling in a straight line in the air that is parallel to the ground, just like it was attached to an imaginary curtain rail. This is known as a straight line path of the rod tip (SLP) and is what you are aiming to produce. If your rod tip bends too much during the cast and drops below the SLP, it is called a concave rod tip path, and this is ultimately what causes a tailing loop. This is because where the rod tip goes - the line follows.
There are quite a few causes of a concave rod tip path, and I’ll explain some of the most common here:
Incorrect power application
Power applied too early in the casting stroke causes the rod tip to collapse and drop down below the SLP during the stroke, resulting in a concave rod tip path and a tailing loop. To fix, think start slow/finish fast. Also think smooth.
With the casting stroke, you are simply loading (bending) the rod so it can use that energy to cast the line. Brute strength is not the answer, good technique is.
Here is one of many good youtube vids out there. I think the paint brush technique shown is a fantastic concept for correct power application:
Too small a casting arc
The more line you have out, the wider the casting arc you need. Think short line small arc/long line wide arc. This is called a variable casting arc. (there is more to it than this, but I'm trying to keep it simple here)
Breaking 180 degree rule
If you open your casting arc up too much (> 180 degrees) things also go pearshape.......
No, I’m not talking about the dodgy looking bloke from up the road, creep in fly casting is an involuntary forward movement of the rod tip before the forward cast. Creep works against you in a couple of substantial ways.
1. If your rod tip prematurely travels forwards as your line is still travelling backwards (the backcast is still straightening), the lines momentum pulls the rod tip down, creating a concave rod tip path………
2. By creeping, you have also moved the rod tip forward and shortened the casting stroke. A shorter stroke means you apply power too early (see incorrect power application above) magnifying the already existing concave rod tip path, resulting in a tailing loop.
One fix for creep is to watch your backcast unfold before you move the rod forward to begin your forward cast. This will improve your timing, and also your casting in general. Another fix is to introduce "Drift" into your cast.
The Big Fix - Drift
Drift is a repositioning of the rod tip towards the direction you have just cast (during the pause between casts). One great tip I have heard for learning drift is to “push an imaginary button in the air” along the SLP behind you with your rod tip after you have made your backcast. Another is to “feel” the loop unrolling on the backcast with your rod tip.
Even though drift is subtle, there are quite a few positive things it adds to your cast that I won’t go into here. The big thing about drift is that it fixes our creep problem.
This is by no means a definitive work on tailing loops, as I have tried to make it as simple as possible. Yes there are other reasons for tailing loops, but I have tried to cover most of the issues I see on the water.
Hopefully it helps you say $#@!% tailing loop less often when you are casting :) - I'd love to hear about it if it has!
My ideal improvement to any fly is to produce ties that catch as many or more fish that take considerably less time to tie, because I prefer to fish than tie flies.
This tie believe it or not started with me tinkering a bit with the traditional woolly bugger (which for me was a highly successful early season and searching fly) after a couple of iterations that looked a bit froggy I landed at the Improved Frog. I haven't tied a wooly bugger for eight to ten years at a guess and this fly is its equal or better which is a bold statement and it takes only a few minutes to tie. Think Mudeye, Frog, Tadpole, Smelt etc... these flies command the fishes attention.
It can be tied with or without a bead in various sizes and my most successful colour would be black followed by olive but it would probably work in any colour. I like a little bit of sparkle in the chenille but sometimes just drab is better, another variation is to tie a puff of red yarn under the tail (like a frogs bum).
Does it work? - I have caught countless fish on this tie as well as my largest Australian caught fish and it is red hot early season on the central Plateau in Tasmania. Give it a try, you will not be disappointed in the results and tie it on anywhere you would consider a woolly bugger or mudeye pattern (and its easier to tie).
Just back from Christmas Island and thought I'd share a new pattern that was a huge success. For anyone familiar with my fly tying philosophy (less is more) this pattern really lived up to my expectations.
After my first trip in 2010 where I literally had bones taking a bare hook with eyes after some patterns were mauled to the point of not having any dressing at all I figured some elements of typical Crazy Charlies may not be required.
So away with the body, the Naked Charlie is a wing over a bare hook with eyes. Does it work? My most successful fly of the week - followed by Darrens Ring Burner CI Special.
The Testicle Variant deserves a mention here as well. For the Two years we have been planning the trip I've been telling Darren not to worry so much about the flies as the bonefish will damn near take a bare hook with eyes. In Fiji on the way over to CI while recounting the story in what may have been an alcohol fuelled moment one such fly was tied.
For the first few days Andrew and Darren asked if it had gotten wet yet - reply being no each night. On day four part way into the second session I thought what the hell, lets give it a go. I turned my back on the guide (who I didn't want to startle) and tied it on. The guide must have been suspicious and asked to see the fly before I'd even cast it. "No, no, we change fly..." was his response as I saw three bones cruise into range. I extracted the fly from the guide politely and made the cast - first fish that saw it raced over ate it. I fished the testicle regularly for the next two days before loosing it and cannot say how many fish it took (many, many) - it also succeeded when allot of my other flies were rejected. I know I will have several in the box next trip.
What did the guides think? Hilarious once I described using body language what testicle meant. They all wanted to see the fly over the next couple of days and had a laugh.
Anyway enjoy tying.
We couldn’t believe the weather when we walked down the steps from the plane onto the tarmac, it was 29 degrees and there was NO WIND (and it did not get above a light zephyr until the 2nd last day either). We passed through the hi-tec security of Cassidy International Airport, and bounced our way in the mini bus to Ikari House, our new home for the next week or so.
A quick unpack, breakfast was inhaled in record time, and then we were finally off to catch a bonefish. After 2 years of planning, saving and tying flies, it was safe to say I was pretty excited!
Back on the bus for a 5 minute drive to the boat, board the boat with all our gear and then we were on our way to the famous Paris Flat. The water was like glass, and someone had dialled all the colours up way past maximum. I just could not believe the place, it just seemed surreal. My casting arm was twitching.........
We arrived at Paris Flat, and English (the head guide) had told us during the trip over that there were plenty of big bones about. We pulled up near a big school of bones, a quick wade, a short wait for the school to turn around, 3 casts later & I was on. Man these thing pull hard! I always wondered what backing looked like........... A 5 - 6lb bone eventually came to hand, and this was the 1st of many for the day on the Ringburner. English, I and another member of our group headed to Cook Island, which was absolutely sensational. I caught a quite a few small bones there, followed by a 6lb bone, a nice Sweetlip that took me into the backing twice, as well as countless other varieties. My fishing companion broke his 7wt and was then relegated to bird watching, while I did the team thing and caught more fish :)
From day 2 onwards the week became a bit of a blur, but overall the bones were pretty spooky, something to do with no wind & constant sunshine, so the bead chain & 7/64” brass eye flys got a good run. The Ringburner was the fly of the week for me, followed next by a yellow George Bush. Suprisingly, English pulled the heavily weighted #2 SL12 Ringburner out when we hit the deeper water, saying “Big bones like big hook & heavy eyes” and he was not wrong. Over the week I lost all 4 of these flies to big fish, and landed quite a few in the 4-6lb range. Dion also had success with his “Naked Charlie” fly (no body, only overwing), as well as christening his “Testicle" fly (tied whilst waiting in Fiji) quite convincingly. You will need to keep an eye on our Untamed Fly Fishing blog for the details of these flies........
The highlight of the trip for me was my encounter with a 60lb GT. Andrew, a friend also with us, had just released a bone, and it wasn’t travelling too well, just splashing around on the surface. A GT came from one direction, and a shark from the other and all hell broke loose! In the battle there was a vortex of mud stirred up from the bottom, water was splashing wildly and we were not sure who the victor was as the combatants disappeared into the depths.
Unfortunately I was too far away to get a shot with the 12wt in time, so I waited for a couple of minutes to see if the GT would return, and obligingly he did. A couple of false casts and I had a Chris Beech flashy profile directly in his path, one strip and the fish accelerated menacingly towards the fly, intentions very obvious. One more strip and the enormous gob opened, the GT savagely engulfed the fly, strip strike and he was on! The water exploded, the rod buckled, and the fish headed for the horizon at a million miles an hour. The flyline was gone in a matter of seconds, and I couldn’t quite believe the insane rate at which the backing was disappearing from my reel. I cranked the drag on the Hatch 9+ up, and the reel was absolutely singing. What an amazing feeling, was I going to run out of backing, was this fish ever going to stop.....?
The reel had been singing one of the most amazing songs I have ever heard. There was around 350 yards of backing out, along with the 100’ flyline, and you couldn’t wipe the smile off my face with a belt sander. If I had a pair of skis on I could have gone water skiing, and I felt like the fish was trying to pull my arms from their sockets.
After what had seemed forever, the reel stopped singing, and I was now thinking that I was ½ a chance of not being spooled by the fish. It was now time to start winding . “Crap, I have to wind all this back in!” was the next thought to register in my brain. The spool may have stopped madly spinning, but the fish was still pulling hard, and I could barely wind the handle. Wind 2 turns, fish pulls, reel spins again, my knuckles get whacked on the spinning handle..... wind 2 turns, fish pulls, reel spins again, knuckles get whacked on the spinning handle..... This fish still didn’t want to come in.
OK, time to show this fish who was boss, I started pumping the rod to gain line to wind back on the reel. Hmmm, not easy, time to HTFU and really have a go – BANG!!!!! There was an explosion. The tension from the bent rod that had wanted to pull me into the water instantly let go. I staggered backwards a step, and when I regained my balance I looked at my rod - most of it was gone! Looking in the water, the top ¾ of the rod was floating several meters in front of me! The butt section & reel was all that remained in my hands, and it was shorter than it was last time I looked at it – broken! Clearly, the fish was the boss......
I stood there dumbfounded for a moment, before Andrew interrupted his photo taking by shouting “keep winding!”. Fair call I thought, the look of shock disappeared from my face, & the manic grin returned. Yep, the fish was still on, and I began trying to wind the fish in directly onto the reel. I battled away for a couple of minutes (I still have the bruises on my chest from the rod butt to prove it), but the inevitable soon happened and the tippet broke, fish swimming away with its new “Flashy Profile” piercing. Andrew & I looked at each other, both grinning like the Cheshire Cat – “How COOL was that?” was all I could say. Time to wind in......
I have been soundly beaten by double figure trout in NZ before, but I have never actually been beaten up, in what I can only describe as hand to hand combat with a fish. The GT comprehensively won this bout in the early rounds with a TKO. I’ve SOOO got to do it again........
There were plenty of other highlights during our trip, but I will leave you with one last story:
After fishing the morning session by myself, it was my turn to fish with the guide. We followed a similar path over the flat that I had covered earlier, stopping near a drop off onto the lagoon. I had just landed a baby GT, and something caused me to turn around 90 degrees and look. “Holy #@!*” may have escaped from my mouth, “David LOOK!!! “ I said to the guide, in an extremely calm manor (OK, maybe not so calm.....). 30 feet away swimming next to us was a 8-9’ Hammerhead Shark! “Oh no, that not good” David said in reply, and we froze, knee deep in water.
At this point of the story, I would like to nominate David for the understatement of the century award.... I also have to say that standing still in knee deep water in this situation, when every part of your being is telling you very clearly to run away screaming like a 6 y/o girl - is NOT EASY!
Time stood still. After what seemed an eternity, and I’m pretty sure that my heart actually stopped beating at one point, the Hammerhead changed direction, and slowly meandered its way back to the deeper water. Fishing near the drop offs now had a new feeling for the remainder of the trip.........
We had a ball on the trip, with excellent banter between the group. One day I will return to to complete my "unfinished business" with the GT, who I imagine will be even bigger by then.
A big thanks to all on who have offered advice and suggestions to a Trout Tragic like myself. I certainly have enjoyed fishing "the dark side" :)
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One of my many Bonefish fly boxes
Dion and I are breaking the monotony of winter with a trip to Kiritimati (Christmas Island) so we can chase Bonefish & GT's. No, it's not Christmas Island the detention centre, Kiritimati is in the middle of the Pacific Ocean between Fiji and Hawaii, and is one of the worlds best saltwater fly fishing destinations. While our families will be freezing back home with all that winter can throw at them, we will be covering up from head to toe to prevent sunburn! Yeah I know - poor us :)
I've been preparing for this trip for a while now, but there is a pretty good chance I have gone WAY overboard with my fly tying, as I passed the 600 fly mark some time ago..... Some think I have a problem, but hey - I enjoy tying flies :)
For those who are not familiar with bonefish flies for Christmas Island, the most popular pattern is the Christmas Island Special. It is a "Crazy Charlie" style fly, and there are plenty of variations out there. To celebrate my fly tying madness, I've created a step by step of my take on the CI Special. Feel free to download it via the Download File link below, just don't forget to email me a picture of you and a Bonefish one day! :)
I just double checked which Krystal Flash I used for the step by step and it is Fl. Shrimp Pink, not Bonefish Pink :)
Given this is on our Blog I'll have to keep it brief. I've been multi-day hiking since I was 14 and cut my teeth carrying around 15kg for a weekend out and upto 30kg for a week. When I could afford to get better gear I purchased a huge expedition pack, so I could carry heaps and heaps, and I did.
Something began to change after a float boat expedition into the middle of the central plateau back in 2003 where all those in attendance suffered greatly under very heavy pack weights.
I began to look into lighter gear and things have changed. Now my 3kg pack has been replaced with one around 0.7kg, my 3.5kg 2 man tent with one around 1.6kg, my 1.6kg sleeping bag with one around 0.8kg. You will be getting the idea, without even trying with two up for a weekend I go out now with less than 7kg on my back (thats what you can carry on a flight as hand luggage). Thats with a full first aid kit and safety gear - if the weather is good we might leave the tent fly and rain coats behind and get closer to 5kg two up for a weekend. Its easy to do with light gear and not taking anything you won't use.
I am a convert, light is more comfortable, less taxing, and safer. It enables you to fish on the move all day and I know I cover better water this way.
Come and give it a go.